Lawmakers return to Missouri capitol to pass virus spending bill

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Missouri Capitol Building in Jefferson City.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri lawmakers have returned to the state Capitol to work on an emergency coronavirus funding bill.

Lawmaker approval is needed for Republican Gov. Mike Parson to spend what could amount to billions of dollars in federal funding for medical supplies, local governments, nursing homes and other aid. Senators are set to consider the plan first, with the House in session after the Senate completes its work.

Exactly how much federal money the state will get is unclear. Parson’s administration asked for the authority to spend roughly $4.8 billion in federal dollars in response to the pandemic, but at least $1.8 billion of that hasn’t been promised by Congress yet.

State Budget Director Dan Haug said the purpose is to pad Parson’s spending authority in case more federal funding becomes available so lawmakers won’t need to return to the Capitol.

The Capitol has been closed to everyone except essential staff since March 24. Lawmakers are taking extraordinary social distancing precautions as they conduct business. Lawmakers have been encouraged to stay in in their offices until they want to debate, ask questions or vote.

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